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For two fun-filled weeks this summer, 25 children who have experienced homelessness attended Family Promise’s Camp Lots-of-Fun. The stresses of their lives faded away as they experienced fun adventures with daily field trips, arts performances, sports, crafts, and interactive play. The kids, ages 5–12, also got loads of much-needed attention with a nearly 1:1 ratio of campers to volunteer counselors (many of whom were members of the Family Promise Youth Council for the Homeless).

Camp Lots-of-Fun would not happen without the generous support of our community, all coming together in various ways to provide a wonderful experience for our campers! Funding was provided by the Robert and Joan Dircks Foundation, the Todd Ouida Children’s Foundation, Sharp, SUEZ, and many other individuals and companies. Thank you!

We extend our sincere thanks to St. Catharine Church in Glen Rock for providing a new home base for camp this year, and free of charge!  Our space there included a large, newly renovated air-conditioned room with kitchen and bathrooms as well as a well-equipped playground – all for use only by our campers. Thank you to Family Promise friend and volunteer Pam Biggs for initiating this arrangement with St. Catharine.

We also welcomed a new Camp Director this year – Family Promise volunteer and high school guidance counselor Ashwini Reddy. Ash and her team did a fantastic job and ensured there was plenty of fun and learning packed into the two-week schedule, including several STEM and literacy activities. In addition to a much-anticipated annual visit to Liberty Science Center, campers enjoyed activities such as swimming, bowling, mini golf, a visit to the Wyckoff Wildlife Center, and a lesson on composting that included a worm bin! New this year was a trip to Pony Power Therapies, which was made possible thanks to Sharp Electronics. Located on a beautiful farm in Mahwah, Pony Power provides special needs and at-risk children with a unique opportunity to interact with horses. Campers started their day on the farm with a yoga session, then participated in various activities including learning how to safely pet, groom, and lead-walk a horse, farm-related fitness activities, a nature-themed scavenger hunt, and exploration of a “fairy forest.” Our campers thrived in the outdoors and loved interacting with the animals as well as the nurturing staff and volunteers at Pony Power. On another day, Sharp welcomed campers to their headquarters in Montvale, where campers got a glimpse of a corporate environment while also learning about different jobs through hands-on experimentation with various Sharp technology and products. The day included lots of learning, fun – and pizza-making!

Many local businesses and individuals generously donated (and many volunteered to serve) healthy breakfast, lunch, and snacks to our campers each day. Thanks to BD, N&V International, Schreiber Foods International, Sharp, Visions Federal Credit Union, Rebecca Ades, Cindy Blinn, Jane Dalton, the Hanrahan family, the Leyva family, Bob Obeiter, the Reddy and Amoss families, Fran Robertson, and Mary Shaw for keeping our campers well fed!

As camp came to an end, we were thankful for the generosity of several companies who ensured that our campers will head back to school with everything they need. BD provided new backpacks filled with school supplies for each camper and thanks to Sharp, TD Bank, and Visions Federal Credit Union, each camper (as well as other children in our programs who could not attend Camp Lots-of-Fun) received a $100 gift card for back-to-school clothes and necessities.